October 12, 2023
Ambazonian Vice-President, Yerima Darbney says the United Nations, United Kingdom and others have abandoned the Southern Cameroon while suffering under French Cameroon’s rule of tyranny, war crimes and state-instituted terror. He also speaks on why his people want independence. ASSISTANT EDITOR Bola Olajuwon reports
This is not the best time to live in Southern Cameroon, an area which has been part of the Republic of Cameroon since 1961. Since 1994, pressure groups in the Southern Cameroons claim there was no legal document (treaty of union) binding Southern Cameroon and French Cameroon together in accordance to UNGA RES 1608(XV) paragraph 5. Therefore, they are seeking to gain independence from the Republic of Cameroon. They renamed the area as Ambazonia on October 1, 2017. But its leaders remain operational from abroad.
Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe, the first president of the Interim Government (IG) of the country was, before his arrest, living in Nigeria from where the council was arranging meetings. In September 2017, he called on the takumbengs – groups of older women protecting protesters from troops – to lead the processions. From Nigeria, Ayuk Tabe took the lead after Cameroonian authorities arrested lawyers and teachers. He also made several appearances on local and intern On Friday, January 5, 2018, Nigerian forces held him and nine members of his cabinet at the Nera hotel, where they were holding meetings. They were charged with terrorism and secession and then delivered to Cameroon’s Kondengui prison where they have been serving life terms since January 2018. Cameroon’s military also responded with a crackdown, and rebels took up arms, claiming to defend the English-speaking minority. The International Crisis Group, an independent organisation based in Brussels working to prevent wars and promote peace, said the conflict has killed thousands of people and displaced 750,000.
Speaking in an online chat with The Nation, Ambazonian Vice President, Yerima Darbney, blamed the UN for the crisis in Southern Cameroon. He called the international organisation as a toothless bulldog. According to him, it is an institution created to run the imperialists agenda by making sure that there is over-exploitation and the complete destruction of the African continent, “the richest continent in the world.”
‘UN turns a blind eye’
Arguing on the link between the alleged genocide in Cameroon and the UN, he said: “Where was the UN during the genocide in Rwanda? Where is the UN as the genocidal war declared by Paul Biya of French Cameroon in Ambazonia rages on? It is six years now, where is the UN? Where is the UN when Ambazonian refugees in Nigeria have no access to good medical facilities, a situation that has resulted in the death of many?
“Where was the United Nations when the leaders of Ambazonia, including Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, were abducted in Nigeria and extradited to French Cameroon against international law? Since then, he and others have been serving life sentences. The sad thing is most of them had refugee status in Nigeria. When the Russian Ukrainian war broke out, I wish you were in America, Canada or Europe to see how these countries took care of Ukrainians fleeing the war and how Africans were maltreated.
“The UN doesn’t serve the purpose of Africa. The UN turns a blind eye because there is serious awareness going on in Africa and it defeats the purpose for her existence. Africans now understand better how these organisations operate. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN peacekeeping forces have been accused of looting the natural resources instead of fighting those responsible for killing the people and exploiting their resources.”
The UN Security Council, the Ambazonian Vice President noted, has failed to assume its responsibility under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to deal with French Cameroon’s colonial war in the Southern Cameroons. “In the circumstances, it is not inconceivable that the Southern Cameroons abandons the self-defence posture to which it has so far restrained itself, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. It may eventually broaden its offensive posture by targeting economic and social infrastructure in French Cameroun that supports that country’s war effort in Ambazonia, in the same way social and economic infrastructure in the Southern Cameroons (Amabazonia) continues to be targeted by the French Cameroon army.
“The objective of this new offensive would be to bring it home to Emmanuel Macron and Paul Biya that their fanciful claim that “l’Ambazonie est Camerounaise” (Ambazonia belongs to Cameroun) is a pipe-dream and that pursuing it will be very painful for French Cameroon in 2023 and beyond, in the same way as the French claimed in 1962 that “l’Algerie est francaise” (Algeria belongs to France) was for France. The people of the Southern Cameroons strongly reject any idea or suggestion, explicit or implicit, that the Southern Cameroons is an area under French influence given that the Southern Cameroons does not have and has never had any ties, colonial or otherwise, with France,” he said.
‘Biya after 42 years in power is unpopular, frail’
On how he sees President Paul Biya and his government, which has been in office in the last 42 years, Darbney said: “Paul Biya after 42 years in power is unpopular, frail, and begging for death to take him. His legacy is and will be that of the worst President, who ever existed in French Cameroun. He took a vibrant country from Ahidjo and for 42 years, Paul Biya and his tribal junta has reduced the country into a failed state with huge external debts and dilapidating infrastructure.
“French Cameroon is seriously divided internally because President Biya is very tribalistic. Biya started the genocidal war in Ambazonia in November 2017, and he will likely die while the war rages on. The killings in Ambazonia have all the hallmarks of what Paul Biya’s marauding tribal troops are doing on behalf of their neo-colonialist and imperialist master, France, whose only interest is natural resources in Ambazonia.
“As a puppet of France, nothing really changed since he took power regarding French Cameroon’s annexationist, assimilationist, colonisation agenda for six decades in our territory. What has changed is the war declared on our people in November 2017 by Paul Biya. The six years old ongoing war of extermination in the territory of the Southern Cameroons has finally redefined itself. It has redefined itself from a war simply of self-defence against the predatory onslaught of France and its vassal state of French Cameroun, to a decolonisation war.”
40,000 civilians dead so far
According to the Ambazonia leader, as of August 2023, 40,000 civilians have lost their lives in the Cameroon’s attack on Southern people. About 1,000,000 persons, he claimed, have fled to Nigeria and other countries as refugees, and about 1,500,000 are internally displaced (IDPs).
“About 550 towns and villages and countless homes have been burnt down by the French Cameroon military. Hundreds of females have been raped – a good number deliberately infected with HIV and other STDs-, scores of children killed in targeted killings, food and food crops, and livestock destroyed to impose conditions of famine, water sources defiled and polluted to provoke a pestilence, and mass graves punctuate the landscape.
“Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are committed in the Southern Cameroons by French Cameroun military, which systematically continues to kill women, teenagers, and even babies, the elderly and the infirm. Presidents Macron and Biya bear direct responsibility for these heinous crimes.
“Six years into the deadly conflict, Paris and Yaounde are still dreaming of forcing the territory and people of the Southern Cameroons to remain their colony for resource looting and plundering. Paris and Yaounde are attempting to pin down the Southern Cameroons as a French sphere of cultural influence and economic backyard. France seeks to impose on the Southern Cameroons, via French Cameroun, its evil colonial ‘accords de cooperation’. France seeks to impose the continued use of France’s colonial currency, the Franc CFA, which is a key tool of colonial control by France. The Southern Cameroons (Ambazonia) was never a French colony.
“In a rare lucid internal moment, Biya admits that his colonial forces in Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia are terrorists from the French Cameroun State. He transformed French Cameroun into a terrorist state with serious instructions from his imperialist master, France, to implement black on black colonialism and assimilation of Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia. His rule with a sinful vanity for close to half a century is akin to that of an emperor without clothes. The present wave of change in Africa gives him sleepless nights.”
On whether people of Southern Cameroon are enjoying their rights, he said: “There is no freedom of speech in that country. Many journalists who wrote about the right to fight for self-determination, which is our basic human rights, are arrested, brutalised, locked up in jail and put under serious torture. A typical example, Wazizi, an Ambazonian journalist was tortured to death in jail. Kingsley Njoka, another Ambazonian journalist is still in prison for just being an English-speaking journalist.”
The way forward
On possible solution, he noted: “Our strongest hope is a peaceful solution to the conflict by the establishment of a United Nations Internationally Mandated Fact-Finding Mission to our territory. Although we are determined to keep negotiations high on our agenda, we must agree that the regime in Yaounde is not ready for any negotiation because war is good business for some of them and their partners.
“The people of the Southern Cameroons strongly believe, and are convinced, that Britain should be actively involved in resolving the Southern Cameroons problem. The Southern Cameroons have historical ties with Britain going as far back as 1833. It developed cultural ties with Britain during nearly half a century of British rule, from 1914-1961. Britain is a world power and a major player in the world. They believe in a post-independence mutually beneficial partnership with Britain in key sectors such as oil and gas, minerals exploration and exploitation, infrastructural development, especially roads, rail, air and seaports, security in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as capacity-building in sectors such as education, agriculture, energy, policing, legal and judicial system, and public administration.
“The people of the Southern Cameroons firmly believe that Britain, working together with its many friends, can ensure the release of all citizens of the Southern Cameroons arbitrarily seized and being held hostage in French Cameroon prisons. Britain has the necessary leverage and can pressurise that country to abandon its colonial adventure in the Southern Cameroons. Republique du Cameroun should be required to respect international law, the unquestionable and inalienable right of the people of the Southern Cameroons to self-determination, their right to sovereign title to their territory, and their right to economic, social, and cultural development.
“Republique du Cameroun must be called upon to respect the Charter of the United Nations, UNGA Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960, UNGA Res 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960, and the Constitutive Act of the African Union, Article 4b which lays down the foundational principle of intangibility of African borders as obtained on the date of independence (French Cameroun obtained independence from France on 1 January 1960 and her borders were frozen at the UN on 20 September 1960 and Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia was never a part of that).
“The people of the Southern Cameroons further believe French Cameroun should be required to withdraw its troops, police and colonial administration from the Southern Cameroons.”
‘Ambazonia want complete independence’
On why does Ambazonia want complete independence Darbney, declared: “Again, as a servant leader, that decision of total independence has been taken by the people. The people of Southern Cameroons in a very rare kind of referendum made that decision on 22 September 2017, when they all came out in all the cities, towns and villages of the territory with peace branches to declare they all wanted complete independence.
“Personally, I think independence is the only way to permanently resolve and restore peace because the two Cameroons are incompatible in many ways, the trust between the people has been irreparably shattered. Our forebears tried the middle ground for a federation, but the incompatibility and distrust within the system and the people culminated in the present predicament. So, another middle ground this time around will be simply passing the war and hostilities to the next generation. We, the never-again generation have resolved not to pass this on to the next generation. It’s total independence for us now.”